Blog : Plus ça change, MG Motor UK

Keith Adams

MG GS (1)

It must be a year since I’ve put pen to paper (virtually) about MG Motor UK, and I think my tone back then might have been careful optimism about the company’s chances once the MG GS comes on stream. One year on, it feels as though the wait for this interestingly-styled, C-segment SUV is as long as ever, and we’re still notching up penny number sales in the UK.

I do like the look of the MG GS and, given it was penned by Anthony Williams-Kenny in Longbridge, following Steve Harper’s work on the MG Icon SUV concept and the subsequent CS SUV, there’s a very strong British connection to talk about. It’s a genuine collaboration between Shanghai and Longbridge – who’d have thought that a decade ago. But it does feel like we need this car now, not in late 2016, and with a wider range than the initial 2.0-litre 217bhp four-cylinder offered in China.

More concerning are the ongoing quality issues coming out of Longbridge. I was interested to see the outcome of Mike Humble’s recent week with the facelifted MG6 TL. It seems the car’s undoubted potential, and now extremely sensible pricing structure, was being undone by shoddy build and on-test breakdowns and failures. It seems my colleagues at CAR Magazine were also similarly stricken, so this was no isolated incident. That’s a shame…

MG GS (4)

So, the question is – should we care, here at AROnline? The car’s not made here and, in all likelihood, it’s going to struggle reaching for class leadership. A rival for the MG GS is the Nissan Qashqai, and that is rather more British – it was designed and developed in the UK, and is built by good men in Washington at Britain’s largest and most productive car factory.

Still, despite all this, I’m quietly rooting for the GS. I love an underdog (must be why I was a serial Rover, Saab and Citroen owner), and especially one with an interesting back story. I know the odds are against it, and it’s likely to be rather less well-made than its established European (and Korean) rivals, but it does at least look good. And when you buy one, you can pick it up from Longbridge. Is it enough? What do you think? Should we care?

So, MG Motor UK – your coverage’s fate on AROnline lies in the hands of our readers. Whatever the weight of comments reflect, we’ll go with that decision. Democracy lives here…

MG GS (2)


Keith Adams


  1. It is after all a “continuation” of a brand with embedded links to Austin Rover and it’s forebears. So for good or bad, I think AROnline should continue it’s “Observations” and impartial commentary.

  2. Yes. MG UK should be covered on these pages.

    Though it looks like MG’s effort to date is strictly a mail-it-in affair, I do think that if MG has global ambitions, it will have to cut its chops in the UK and European markets first. And that is what it appears to be happening now.
    Further, f MG ever gets back to its roots with a successor to the TF, how could AROnline NOT cover it?

  3. I have to say it should continue, there are strong connections and Hopefully a strong future at some point!

  4. Coverage should definitely continue. At least while there is still some UK input and a link with Longbridge.

  5. Coverage of SAIC MG should indeed continue on this website, because AROnline is the home of the ongoing real-life soap opera. I’d love to see, in time, the development stories of vehicles like the GS. It would be an awful shame if that was only covered on a Chinese website. Marques will continue to go global, because that is the nature of where things are right now.

  6. To me it’s not really a question of whether or not AROnline should still cover MG, as it very much should, given the links between the former MGR and SAIC/MG, whether we like it or not. Or we could also question JLR coverage while we’re at it. The real question is whether or not the way MG is to be covered is accurate, based on facts and not just based on the emotion hiding behind because it’s the last remnant of what MGR used to be. I have no doubt that the job is and will be done accurately. If MG cars are good we should say so. If they’re utter crap then we should say so as well. And when badly-built press cars go out the gates of Longbridge, AROnline reports on it, as it should, if only to make those SAIC folks understand that the road to success is hardly an easy one…

  7. Is the GS really the work of our own designers? Were they working to the needs of the Chinese home market?

    It looks like a Korean (Proton?) design from around 20 years ago; if this is a product of current UK design, then I’m worried by that.

    • Proton is Malaysian, not Korean, and recent models have had design and ride / handling input from Lotus so similarities with MG are there. That aside, most cars look pretty generic these days. I have difficulty telling new Mondeo from an Audi at a distance.

    • To your second question, Tigger, I would say yes: most GSs will likely be sold in China and the EcoSport and Kuga segments are huge there right now.

  8. Yes I think MG Motor should still be covered here.

    As for the proton likeness as suggested by Tigger above – people were also saying that about the facelift zeds 10 years ago. Perhaps we need to get used to the fact that MGs just look like protons?!

    Not that I can see any likeness myself.

    • Put an Energy Orange Gen 2 next to an Orange MG 6, look at the side profile, and you can see the point. Although the 6 is a lot bigger.

  9. I think mg either need to sell the cars dirt cheep or have a very good warrantee period with them. In NZL I think mitzubitchy were offering a 10 year power train warrantee that is impressive.

  10. @ Nicholas:

    “To me it’s not really a question of whether or not AROnline should still cover MG, as it very much should, given the links between the former MGR and SAIC/MG, whether we like it or not. Or we could also question JLR coverage while we’re at it.”

    I’m struggling to see any common ground between these two manufacturers that should bring such an observation. Especially since JLR has three UK car manufacturing plants, one UK engine plant (plus engines sourced from Dagenham and Bridgend) and two large UK R&D centres, with annual production volumes even outstripping that of BL in the 1970’s, not even allowing for the fact that these are extremely high value cars.

    Please would you explain the similarity with MG Motors UK?

    • Well the common ground is that both JLR and MG are part of the BL/Rover Group history, which AROnline is all about. And I forgot MINI, too…
      But I get your meaning, yes there’s hardly any industrial comparison that can be made between MG Motor UK and JLR, or even MINI. Yet all three share the same history, up until 15 years ago they were still the same group (except for Jaguar of course)…

  11. I do not understand why itis even being discussed, there was never talk like this when the Germans took control or when the Briitish bought the company back, so why now, the brand is continuing, the same as it was when it was part of Morris, or when it was part of BLMC, BL, AR, RG or MGR.

    I can only assume it is those that have an anti Chinese agenda that want to remove it, and if that’s the case, this site will go the way of others, it must be kept up to date and relevant, with all the new cars, that are designed, engineered and assembled here, at our Longbridge, so can we put this racism me nastiness to rest now and just enjoy the cars, and the future.

    • I’m only asking the bloody question!

      I’m pro putting this stuff up, but if the readership doesn’t want it, there’s no point doing it. What I have already put a stop to is the blind putting up of stupid MG Motor UK press releases without meaningful analysis or even editing.


      • Thats a little strong Mr Adams, after all, the original post was only saying what they thought, after all, this is a forum, and foul language is really the lowest form or response, surely if you dont agree with the post which was a positive and true one, from all i have read over the years, there is a large anti Chinese group here, and not just here – as the owner of the site, your comment should be more civil, or people may think that you do not want people here at all !

  12. Yes -MG should be covered. An affordable qashqai rival would be good for sales i think. The build quality is a real shame but I’m still really interested in MG whether the reviews are good or not. Partly i think the mainstream press are never going to give the MG a glowing report as glowing reports are reserved for the germans and ford. I want to actually know when they finally get it right.

  13. I can see no point in covering anything to do with either the new MG or the Bini. Neither brand has anything to do with AROnline within the historical context of AROnline. There must be a plethora of other places for people to talk these new iterations up. To my mind they have nought to do with Morris Garages or Sir Alex Issigonis. I understand people want there to be sentimental and romantic links between the old and the new, but WITHIN THE CONTEXT of AROnline they have no place. If you’re interested in the new MG or the Bini find other places to discuss and love them. Personally I’m sick of them on AROnline, and the FB page. My two cents worth.

  14. I’m glad Keith Adams has asked this question. For me the answer is an emphatic NO. I happened upon this website a few years ago and found it then (and still do) a fascinating treasure trove of historical information about the cars I grew up with. For me, the scope of this site ends in 2005. That doesn’t mean I’m anti-Chinese, or that I think the 3 and 6 are rubbish, (I’ve never driven either), simply that within the context of this site, they’re not relevant. Why is this? Because they’re new. I go to Autocar/CAR for new cars, Pistonheads for ‘Shed of the week’, and here for history. This site should in my view focus on being the Practical Classic of AR etc. Focusing on what its very good at.

    Every publication has its USP and recently this one has strayed. Stray too far and you can loose your relevance and appeal, (Recently we have seen stories about Vauxhall vans for example and a reproduced Press release about a new MG dealership opening in London). Put it like this – you don’t see Classic and Sportscar test driving brand new Ferrari’s do you…because that magazine knows its customer base well.

    So, it isn’t really anything to do with Chinese MG’s per se, it’s to do with what this site was, and should continue to be, all about.

    Perhaps in a few years when any of the current range becomes historically relevant, they can put in an appearance. But until that day comes (and in my view it never will), I think AROnline should leave well alone.

    Three other things while I’m here:

    Honest John has a fascinating news timeline of (mostly) AR news stories plucked from the past. Surely – now that you’re mates – that feature should be on this site?

    Secondly – each story should be ‘twitterable’ to help sharing and awareness

    Thirdly – and I know advertising is important – but can you move that advert off your masthead and make the masthead bolder. Be proud of the brand!

    • Following this logic – “the scope of this site ends in 2005” – isn’t very helpful for Keith. It forces him to continue re-treading the same path, and there are only so many articles about Allegros that people will read.

      I think this site should keep the MG and JLR content.

  15. MG needs this car, and needs it now.

    The current market craze is for pretend SUVs.
    I never saw the fascination, and having hired a Vauxhall Mokka, still don’t. Yes you sit tall, but climbing in, closing the tinny door and sitting slightly above everyone made it feel more like a Mitsubishi L300 van than a Range Rover. Boot space is smaller than you would expect, and as, like most vehicles of this type, it has huge C pillars and headrests, rear visibility is severely restricted, which makes parking in urban areas more difficult than it needs to be.

  16. I Think you’re New approach is right Keith. I think it would be churlish not to mention MG on this site.
    I think it absolutely correct to question “MG motor UK” press releases. Instead of blindly allowing MG Motor UK to put their twisted marketing perspective forward which know one in their right minds believe at face value.
    The MG name is an historic UK Marque even if the product today isn’t. They also have a small UK presence and therefore should be given column inches. What does needs stopping is the blatant “your racist” if you question MG Motor UK or Saic’s integrity. These type of mind numbing comments are underhanded and individuals who use this term need to take a step back and look at things from a greater perspective instead of crying out with cheap shots which takes away the importance of combating real racism. If there are any actual racist views I’m sure you would remove them.

  17. why not put that 2 litre petrol in the mg6? nice beefed up car seems to me… btcc? what? or not… tetst told me that the 6 was good in handling, personally i think the CS as ugly, but also of kinds from cashcow etc… 😉

  18. On the question of MG inclusion –

    Yes of course!

    MG and MINI are the remains of what was Rover group, and the lineage of AR – BL.

    Rover group under BMW is documented, then by that logic MINI under BMW and MG under SAIC should be documented.

    Include Jag and Land Rover too, who are prospering under Tata ownership.

  19. I agree with Will… like it or not, the buying public seem to want these smaller type SUV’s (myself not included). Therefore the MG GS should join the market and pick up a slice of business in the UK (hopefully more than the 6 has). To me,the GS looks as good as current offerings from the other manufacturers… but get the build quality right.

  20. AROnline has always been, as I think as Keith deserves special recognition for, an honest, warts and all narrative of the British Leyland story, from its many tributaries to the estuary we reside at today. It becomes hard to know where to draw the line but first and foremost, we are automotive, engineering, design, manufacturing and even marketing, sales and ownership enthusiasts. We vary from keen owners and drivers, to those with an interest in the business for business sake.

    For that reason MG Motor UK, and MINI, as well as the firms that surround and support the models, and those behind some of the legendary models (think Williams, Cooper, TWR) all deserve a place but must always subjected to the same honesty and clarity that makes AROnline such a unique and valuable resource.

    For those who feel there’s no value MG coverage then please at least let those who are interested enjoy it. The interplay between East and West is a great barometer of not only Automotive but even global industry, business and politics, and if nothing else, please let this be a great, unbiased case study, account and informed contemporary analysis for the generations to follow.

  21. Coverage has to continue, but I understand where Keith is coming from. I have no time for the design of the new MG, but it is the link to the backstory that makes it interesting. For what it’s worth I would never own one, but the only MG I’ve ever owned was a Metro so I’m not really qualified to say much. Seriously though for me there is more interest in Longbridge than what is produced at Washington.

    • I agree. I’ll gladly read anything that Keith writes, but am not really interested in other brands like Vauxhall or Nissan.
      We do need to see what MG is doing – however badly – but I can’t see myself buying anything built after 2005 (except maybe a TF) as I really dislike the lack of a distinctive MG grille.

  22. We should know what’s going on at SAIC MG (also the LDV/Maxus heritage), not least because Longbridge is still open and employing staff who have been there since at least 2004 so there is continuity.

    IMO, the GS is a rehashed Ssangyong nearing the end of its model cycle – the MG interior and exterior styling has some nice touches but it runs a severe risk of coming too late to the market. Like the 3 and 6, it seems a near-miss (but at least they finally seem to have a decent sized TV advert budget!)

  23. I most definitely think AROnline should cover MG UK. It’s the step after MGR and so the link is obvious. You could argue against coverage given that production is in China. However, Longbridge does play a significant role in design (and still a token of production). So, my answer remains ‘Yes, keep on covering MG UK’.

    I too quite like the look of the GS. However, a late 2016 UK launch seems almost bizarre. Similary, why have the MG6 in the salon car racing but not offer a road going sports version (and now not even a petrol) ??

  24. Yes please.

    I like reading about the older stuff & the new.

    Just keep being honest.

    Oh-many thanks for the work you do a free site!

    Adrian Jenkins

  25. I would vote for news/views of MG Motor UK to continue being covered here. The MG brand deserved coverage wherever the cars are built.

    On the other hand I should think most bloggers here come to read about or talk about the real AR/BL/BMC cars and I enjoy the historical articles the best.

    Which reminds me, I don’t remember reading anything here about the Austin (Nash/Hudson) Metropolitan from the 1950s. I had 3 of them vedr the years.

  26. Yes please, keep the MG Motor news coming. You never know, they might be a major UK player again one day and Longbridge may rise like a phoenix.

    Oops, don’t mention the Phoenix 🙂

  27. Continue!

    1. We are all readers who care about the MG marque and the Longbridge plant.
    2. BL always was an international company with all kind of assembly plants in Europe and in the new worlds, like Australia, South Africa, India and South America. This interesting line is now continued in the new market of China. Next to that there are markets where MG is selling rather well, like in Iran, United Arab Emirates and Middle America.
    3. MG is finally coming up to speed with the MG3. As a Dutch guy I even start spotting MG’s in the wild in the UK now, Sales are better than Subaru, and MG even understood that Television commercials (Channel 4, ITV) are a must. They are really on the right track, so just give them a chance!

    What is it with the British people to always give a thumb down to “British” products. Be proud and continue building. Britain is doing a fantastic job in the Car Industry, and has been doing so for the last 20 years at least.

    Oh by the way… Keith, welcome back!… You build this site and made it big. I can’t thank you enough !!! Please do not disappoint the loyal readers now.

  28. Continue reporting on the saga I say – with all due impartial analysis of course.
    I don’t want to read just company press releases, blindly copied yokel-jurno style and Keith is too good for that as we all know of course.

    The links to the BL/ARG/MGR past may be weak, but they are there none the less. Where else are we likely to find such reliable/timely information about what’s happening at Longbridge?

  29. I would say most definitely continue with the coverage of MG UK Limited. Whilst it may be Chinese owned it is still part of the heritage of what was BL. I mean if logically, we were to adopt this attitude that it stopped when it ceased to be part of BL then logically we’d need to cease coverage of MINI, JLR, Leyland Trucks, Optare at the same time. Yes, it takes a bit of getting used to seeing the MG badge on a SUV but I don’t adopt this position that MG should only be building two-seater sports cars, driven by Spitfire pilots on the way to the pub for a glass of warm bitter.

    All car manufacturers have to adapt to the markets and demand – I mean Bentley is building a SUV and yes it looks pug-ugly but it recognises that there’s demand out there for such a car. Even Alfa Romeo has cars like this in development. You can buy a Lacia badged people carrier in Europe.

    We all want MG to succeed and prosper but at the same time we should not be blind to its faults. The site should remain impartial and not simply regurgitate press releases. I must say however that a work colleague of mine took delivery of a MG3 a few weeks ago and says it’s a cracking wee car. And I still think for all its faults the MG6 is a handsome beast.

    At the same time, there is still a wealth of BL-related info to go through, especially on commercial side. One I’d like to see is the LDV Maxus, the last vehicle produced by a part of the company that could be argued was truly last part of BL making vehicles.

    So keep up good work Keith.

  30. I’d like less coverage, sadly. Until there’s something worthy and credible to report, I’d like to see such articles left at the roadside…

    In point of fact, I’m even less interested in articles about diesel locomotives. Really struggling to tee what that has to do with AMC/BL/ARG/MGR…

  31. Yes, the products of MG should be mentioned, but I struggle to see that much connection between an SUV designed for the Chinese market, and the former ARG. The MG badge is a bit of a red herring really…

  32. Please continue!

    I own an MG6 so am biased, mind. I believe that the MG6 was the last MG with a ‘link’. It was developed by ex-Rover engineers and has some common parts with the Rover 75. I believe that everything since has little to do with the old firm; they may be designed over here still but those designs are for Chinese tastes and sales. The Longbridge operation is merely a token gesture. We no longer matter, sadly.

    One thing I’d like to see is more development stories for British cars that are non-Blarg.. you’ve covered pretty much everything you can on that front. For example, the Vauxhall cars from the 70s, UK Fords from that era, Rootes..

  33. Saw one of these on M42 this week. Not a bad looking car, they were trying to hide it was an mg, but the taped up badge was a poor attempt.

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